A 46-year-old from Orlando has become the oldest woman to have a baby through in vitro fertilization using her own fresh — not frozen — biological eggs.
Belinda Slaughter delivered her first child — a healthy baby boy — last September. Her son, Jackson, "is wonderful and perfectly healthy," said the proud mom.
She wasn't trying to set a record.
"I didn't think this was so special," said Slaughter, now 47, who is a dental hygienist. "I thought, 'There are women older than I am having babies.'"
That's true, but not with their own eggs.
While many women older than 46, even into their 60s, have delivered babies through in vitro using donor eggs or frozen embryos from when they were younger, Slaughter made medical history because of the age of her eggs, not the age of her uterus, said Dr. Mark Trolice, founder and medical director of Vivere-Winter Park Fertility Laboratory, who worked with Slaughter and her husband, Torrance Slaughter, 42, to conceive.
The case was published in the May issue of Fertility and Sterility, a journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Such firsts are hard to verify, but the fact that this birth was reported in the medical literature gives it credibility, said Dr. Richard Paulson, a well-known fertility expert and medical director of the fertility program at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.
"What's remarkable about this case is not the age of the mother so much as the age of the egg, which was 46 years old," he said.
"If a woman freezes her eggs at age 40, and at age 47 has those eggs implanted trough in vitro fertilization and has a baby, that would not be as scientifically remarkable as if she got pregnant using an egg harvested at that day and age," Paulson said.
The oldest person on record to have a baby naturally, without infertility treatment, was a 59-year-old British woman who gave birth in 1997, according to Guinness World Records.
A New York infertility doctor claims that in 2011 his patient had a baby at age 49 using eggs she had frozen when she was 48, but that case was never verified.
"People can make claims," Paulson said. "Many do press releases. But scientific journals validate them."
Slaughter, who had a history of infertility, knew her chances of getting pregnant with her own egg were slim.
"Dr. Trolice said that because of my age, I had only a 1 percent chance of conceiving, but I still wanted to try."
In March 2013, Trolice harvested eggs from Slaughter's ovary, fertilized them with her husband's sperm and three days later transferred four embryos into Slaughter's uterus. One took.
A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have. As she ages, so do her eggs, which not only dwindle in number, but also have a greater chance of conferring a chromosomal defect.
Fertility experts don't encourage women to defer pregnancy. "In no way does a woman want to use this example to defer fertility until she is older," said Trolice. "After age 40, women still face huge hurdles. Their risk of complication gets higher every step of the way."